Today, I got the opportunity to post a discussion piece on whether al Qaeda affiliates actually follow a plan in light of the many opportunities and competing interests at play. Recently, there has been renewed discussion about “the Next Bin Laden”. I’m not a big fan of these kinds of posts. But I did think it was worth discussing whether these al Qaeda affiliates actually have any sort of plan and if so, do they follow any of the lauded al Qaeda strategy documents put out by their theorists?
The rise of many jihadi affiliates around the Africa and the Middle East has renewed the American mediaquest to anoint “The Next Bin Laden”. Lacking any real information or expertise on emerging leaders some analyses has settled on older known quantities; namely Abu Musab al-Suri. (I wonder if someone just changed the date on this article from 2005 to 2013, Lawrence Wright does a better breakdown of Suri at this link from September 11, 2006.) While I’ve always been a critic of Suri, the article does raise an interesting question: do the mish-mash of “al Qaeda-in-name” affiliates actually have a plan for their actions? Most importantly, what is the plan for Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (aka ISIS/AQ in Iraq) as they move forward in Syria?
If al Qaeda affiliates were to actually build a plan from their own lessons learned, I would assume they might reference three jihadi planners of note and several other lesser-known jihadi veterans old and new. For the “Big Three” and their relevant works I would pick:
Abu Musab al-Suri and his lengthy 1600 page The Call to Global Islamic Resistance released in 2005
Bin Laden’s final strategic thoughts from Abbottabad
Abu Bakr Naji’s 2004 upload The Management of Savagery
I’ll discuss some of my general notions about these three influences and my opinion on whether any of these three actually make much of an impression on current jihadi conflicts.
Despite gaining ground in some countries and encountering opportunities for revitalization in Syria and Egypt, al Qaeda, as a single entity, continues to fracture. For al Qaeda’s second global leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, much of this has been his own doing. After the death of Bin Laden, Zawahiri, like many new bosses, tried to assert control by pushing forward via many affiliates and in many regions. Zawahiri had always been a bit more aggressive than Bin Laden who was more pragmatic and cautious in undertaking new endeavors learning from the group’s early 1990s follies in Sudan and Somalia.
Paradoxically, one major reason that al Qaeda affiliates are not getting along is the great many opportunities before them. The turmoil in the Arab world has created security vacuums that Zawahiri has sought to exploit by calling on his local affiliates to set up shop. As they move in, they often disagree about who should be in charge.
Ahh, so who is boss? Many believed al Qaeda was a fluid and thriving terror group because petty personal squabbles were put aside by these extremely devout al Qaeda members who always put jihadi ideology over their own interests. As detailed in Jacob Shapiro’s new book The Terrorist’s Dilemmaand frequently seen amongst the new affiliates, personal interests routinely trump al Qaeda’s global agenda. So what is Zawahiri to do asks McCants:
Zawahiri could still pare back his organization. He could amicably part company with al Shabaab in Somalia and sever ties with AQI. The open defiance of the latter would certainly merit such a response. But al Qaeda’s leadership has historically preferred to admonish wayward affiliates rather than cut them loose. During the Iraq war, Zarqawi severely damaged al Qaeda’s global reputation by mismanaging his organization. Yet al Qaeda’s leadership preferred to privately scold him rather than cut him loose. Better to have an affiliate behaving badly, al Qaeda central figured, than to have no affiliate at all.
Zawahiri faces a different challenge than Bin Laden: a lack of levers to rein in disobedient affiliates. As seen from the Abottabad documents, affiliates of all shapes and sizes still wanted to please Bin Laden. Additionally, Bin Laden, as Gregory Johnsen notably pointed out, had what other al Qaeda leaders didn’t have: money. The respect earned from the Afghan mujahideen years, the success of the 9/11 attacks, his money and personal network, as well as steady communication all resulted in Bin Laden holding a series of levers with which to admonish wayward leaders and affiliates. Today, Zawahiri does not host these attributes nor enjoy these levers and thus has little ability to punish those out of step with his wishes. The next year will certainly be critical for seeing what shape al Qaeda takes in the future, and whether it will have much of any resemblance of the al Qaeda of old.
First, let’s explore why Zawahiri would issue public rather than private guidance to the global jihadi community. Normally, al Qaeda might broadcast strategic vision publicly, but reserve directives and corrective guidance via secure communications. The most famous intercept of these private communications comes from Zawahiri’s 2006 scolding of abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi for counterproductive violence against Shia in Iraq. In addition, the Harmony documents provide countless other examples of al Qaeda’s internal directives and squabbles. More recently some private communications to jihadi groups in Syria have allegedly surfaced showing dissatisfaction between Zawahiri and al Qaeda in Iraq’s emir abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al Qaeda, like most any terrorist organization, normally delivers these messages in private for several reasons:
Airing internal squabbles publicly hurts the organization’s popular support and certain leader’s authority,
Public messaging can reveal strategy and orders to adversaries (counterterrorists) enabling their efforts to defeat the terrorist organization, and
Such messaging can, at times, severely reduce the security and success of al Qaeda affiliates.
In short, this message went public because Zawahiri’s guidance isn’t being followed. Al Qaeda Central messages and directives either can’t get to affiliates or they are being ignored. Both scenarios are problematic for the terror group.
Recent weeks have seen a flurry of articles touting a resurgent al Qaeda. I have lots of grumblings about this notion, which I’ll post separately in the coming days – namely that al Qaeda has actually done nothing as of the writing of this post to achieve its so called resurgence.
The nexus of recent U.S. embassy closures and increased drone attacks allegedly came from an intelligence intercept of an al Qaeda conference call – or as we’ve now learned was probably not a conference call at all but instead some sort of an online chat where people that may or may not have involved high level leaders of al Qaeda affiliates or atleast some dudes that might know important people in al Qaeda affiliates. (We really don’t know anything essentially) What was interesting about the al Qaeda conference call that wasn’t a conference call was who did not participate. Check out this list of participants from the Daily Beast:
Al Qaeda members included representatives or leaders from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and more obscure al Qaeda affiliates such as the Uzbekistan branch. Also on the call were representatives of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates such as al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula, according to a U.S. intelligence official.
Who is missing? uuhhh, al Shabaab right?
Maybe the source just forgot al Shabaab, but I think chances are that Shabaab wasn’t invited to participate in the call. Shabaab isn’t out in Somalia, but they most certainly are a mess. It was less than two years ago that Shabaab’s merger with al Qaeda was seen by many as a sign of that group’s growing strength with some in 2010 declaring Shabaab as al Qaeda’s strongest affiliate. Having recruited the largest number of Western foreign fighters of any al Qaeda affiliate at the time, Zawahiri probably thought a merger might be a good opportunity during a time of relative decline in al Qaeda.
So what for Zawahiri and al Qaeda? Egypt is an opportunity and Syria remains the center of gravity for foreign fighters. But we should use caution when overstating Zawahiri’s ability to control al Qaeda affiliates in these ripe battlefields. It was only a few months ago that al Qaeda went silent and turned a blind eye on its dysfunctional affiliate in Somalia. Zawahiri ignored Afghani, Aweys and Hammami; passively letting his affiliate leader Godane kill al Qaeda members loyal to AQ Central. Why should we be certain from a conference call that probably wasn’t a conference call that Zawahiri and al Qaeda are in control of a global insurgency in many countries? While I do think al Qaeda has probably only delayed the attack that prompted the embassy closures, I don’t think the West should heap so much credit on an al Qaeda that just a few months ago couldn’t silence one of its most celebrated foreign fighters (Hammami) or remove its most divisive emir (Godane).
In follow up to the internal competition hypothesis I posted on Monday, I wrote another post at FPRI that went on to describe the many external forces that may be accelerating a Zawahiri-led al Qaeda to plot a global attack. I didn’t want readers to get the impression that the motives for a plot were limited to just internal politics, there are many external forces likely driving al Qaeda action as well. The post is here at this link at FPRI.
One of the points from this is AQAP and their talented bombmaker Asiri have had quite a while to develop a new and more sophisticated explosive device. Here’s a quick snippet from that part of the FPRI post and a graphic I put together to illustrate what may be Asiri’s development pace. Essentially, without drones and CT efforts, his pace of development may be considerably quicker than when there is overt Western and Arab counterterrorism pressure. However, in both scenarios, no pressure and lots of pressure, if Asiri is still alive he’s likely to keep making more sophisticated devices and creating innovative plots.
“Pace of attacks, R&D and planning time – al-Qaeda affiliates have varying abilities to conduct attacks on the West and varying access to Western targets. AQAP in Yemen has been the primary affiliate for attacking the West in recent years and a key component of this capability is Ibrahim Asiri – AQAP’s talented bombmaker. Some news stories this week allege that Asiri and his band of bombmaking partners have developed the ability to make undetectable explosive clothing from a new liquid drying process. As long as he’s alive, Asiri is likely to continue creating more sophisticated devices. Drones and other counterterrorism actions may be able to slow down the pace of development but ultimately if Asiri and AQAP have even a small handful of operatives planning attacks on the West, there will eventually be more sophisticated plots arising. See the chart below (Figure A) for my crude estimate of Asiri and AQAP’s planning and development timeline since Dec. 2009 measured alongside the pace of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen (New America Foundation data).”
Today, I rather lately got around to a post on this past weekend’s embassy closures in response to an allegedly imminent al Qaeda plot to attack Western interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The goal of the post was to discuss some of the internal forces that might be driving al Qaeda Central to attack. I then look at what how competition internally might be driving al Qaeda to act on plans for a large scale coordinated plot.
Here’s a snapshot of the article and a graphic I put together on one of my theories of how al Qaeda affiliated might be communicating. For the whole post, visit this link here at FPRI.
“This latest threat to American and Western targets overseas is not surprising but is instead interesting because of what I perceive to be the many internal motivations of Zawahiri and al-Qaeda to plot a spectacular attack now. Increasingly, al-Qaeda Central and what I would now call al-Qaeda Central Forward–al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Yemen-–face stiff competition with one of its own affiliates, al-Qaeda in Iraq and their recent absorbtion Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.”
Lastly, while al Qaeda may be degrading globally, the West should not mistakenly believe that jihadi violence will necessarily decrease. On the contrary, competing al Qaeda affiliates may actually increase their attack tempo in an effort to assert themselves as the new leader post-Zawahiri and al Qaeda Central. More successful attacks will likely lead to more media attention, more recruits and more resources. As I noted last year in “What if there is no al Qaeda?”, the U.S. may now be encountering many different regional terror groups. Some will require direct engagement and elimination. Some indirect engagement and disruption. And others may only require monitoring and little to no engagement. Ultimately, in a post-al Qaeda-era (much like the post-Soviet-era), analysis, planning and decision-making will in many ways become more difficult rather than less difficult.
Two years ago, Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan marking one of the most significant milestones in the history of terrorism and counterterrorism. Two and a half years ago, I began conducting surveys to assess what the impact might be if Osama Bin Laden ever met his demise. These surveys have since become an annual assessment I generate to gauge public perceptions of the threat of al Qaeda and terrorism in general. While Bin Laden may be gone, terrorism continues and the past year has demonstrated how terrorist attacks might manifest themselves in a variety of ways from Benghazi to the Boston Marathon bombing.
This poll is shorter and a bit different than past surveys. Realizing there have been changes in terrorism, I opened the questions up a bit to include new emerging trends. However, I did repeat some questions verbatim so we can see how our collective thinking has changed over time.
Thanks in advance for contributing to the survey. And anyone is welcome to participate – the more votes the better the results. I’ll begin posting the results and comparisons with past data sets in a few weeks. Here is the link to the survey if you would like to open it in a separate window: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2yearsafterBinLaden
And if you would like to just take the survey here, I’ve embedded it in this post. Thanks for taking the survey!
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.
Well, I’ve been waiting for a year to see the outcome of Shabaab’s “Game of Thrones” and today a surprising public fracture emerged on the aljihad.com website. Ibrahim al-Afghani, a once senior leader of al Shabaab, close associate of Ahmed Godane and fellow member of Godane’s Isaaq clan, posted a public and direct call to Ayman al-Zawahiri asking him to intervene in Somalia and remove Godane as leader of al Shabaab.
Ibrahim al-Afghani’s public posting finally discloses the fractures I’ve been discussing for the past year. Omar Hammami, the American public relations arm for Team Robow (maybe should be renamed Task Force Robow/Aweys/Afghani), has provided ten reasons for Afghani’s public denouncement of Godane – a major development in Somalia. These are quotes from Omar’s tweets so if you don’t like the language, complain to Omar on Twitter.
”Dr. Ayman has to act fast and decisively b4 the jihad is destroyed and enters a deep dark tunnel”
“2 scholars are being threatened.”
“Muhajirs are being expelled and misused/mistreated.”
“Secret jails are off limits to observers.”
“Scholars and leaders can’t check on claims of torture.”
“Opportunities to open new outside fronts are purposefully neglected.”
“The wealth of islam is squandered by the amir.”
“There is no real shura and all the real actors are kept from benifitting the jihad.”
“kids w/good intentions are put in charge of op.s that go wrong and have negative fall out, &they are in charge of policing elders”
“the leader is responsible for the recent defeats and the loss of the previously unprecedented public/tribal support”
Interesting that Omar wrote these tweets in English. Why not Arabic? I’m guessing its to get word out to the West, but the solution he is seeking is not likely to come from the West. I love it that he calls some of the Shabaab members “kids”. Oh wise twenty-something Omar who joined terrorist group that betrayed him. Omar continued immediately after the above posts to assert why everyone should listen to Ibrahim al-Afghani:
Essentially, Omar explains why it must be Afghani and potentially not Robow that engages Zawahiri and brings the injustices of Godane to Zawahiri’s attention. Afghani was a Godane ally at one time, fought in Afghanistan, and comes from the same clan as Godane. Also of note, there were rumors of Afghani once replacing Godane as Emir of Shabaab. See this Critical Threats article for a longer but still short description about Afghani.
Here is an update to my crazy Powerpoint chart from last year. I haven’t been tracking Raage so don’t know his status or position. I’ve put “X’s” over the scenarios that no longer make sense from last year and noted the migration of Afghani to the Aweys and Robow side. In yellow is what I anticipate as the coalition against Godane as of today.
Here are some thoughts for today and I’ll have another update in the next day or so:
What does Task Force Robow-Aweys-Godane want Zawahiri to do? - Usually these things occur behind the scenes but this is a public call to Zawahiri. Omar has suggested that communications with al Qaeda have been going through AQAP and that AQAP has gone cold on them in recent months or communicated intermittently with Godane. This puts Zawahiri in an awkward spot. Zawahiri went for a merger with Shabaab that Bin Laden would not pursue. The main hope for al Qaeda now is in Syria and Somalia is a distraction. If Zawahiri leaves Godane in, he confirms his negligence in not dealing with the Hammami situation the past year and demonstrates his naivety about formally merging with Shabaab in the first place. Dr. Z must be scratching his turbin.
A public plea at this time isn’t such a brave move- If this public call from Afghani had come last summer, it would have been a brave move. But the Afghani call coming now, after Shabaab has gotten their ass kicked incessantly since the merger, isn’t particularly brave. Shabaab lost its most important city of Kismayo, which Afghani once commanded, and I imagine he and many others have little to command under Godane at this point. Loss of turf has also likely brought folks like Afghani, Hammami, and Robow closer together as they get squeezed into Bay & Bakool. Bottom line: If Shabaab were winning, how Godane governs would not matter.
Source in Somalia again prove suspect – A year ago, several sources said that Ibrahim al-Afghani was chasing Omar around and trying to kill him in Somalia. This now seems unlikely. Again open sources from Somalia prove not credible. No surprise.
The revelations of Omar Hammami – A year ago, when Omar Hammami posted his plea video, many thought it was an anomaly amongst Shabaab’s alleged rise after aligning with al Qaeda. However, his persistent presence on Twitter has brought him supporters, probably kept him alive and turned him from goat to glamor jihadi again. However, over the long run, Omar’s postings are a double edged sword for the jihad in Somalia and foreign fighter recruitment globally. If a Westerner is considering joining Shabaab or any AQ affiliate and witnesses the absolute mess that is going on publicly, they must be crazy to join – and unfortunately jihadi foreign fighters usually are crazy.
Discussions of money- As I have mentioned in previous posts about jihad in Africa, resources and money play an important role and as Omar outlined on Twitter, how money is handed out matters a lot to these guys. While Omar and these Shabaab splinters blanket themselves in ideological cover, underneath they are really concerned about their personal power and control of resources. Jihad in Somalia – “Show me the money!”
First, a tweet from Omar. I’m not sure how Omar’s mission in Somalia relates to Martin Luther King. Last time I checked, Martin Luther King was about non-violence and Omar and the Somalia jihad is very much about violence. I believe MLK had a dream and Omar is having a nightmare.
But, then came this tweet.
Now we are talking. Omar seems to think the splits and fractures he is experiencing with al Shabaab are occurring with al Qaeda as well. Omar, we’d all love to know more so please expand. I realize you don’t want to put yourself in jeopardy, but I think you’ve already shot one of your feet, so no need to hold back.
Things were quiet for most of the day and then @azelin sent out the links to a new Hammami video showing a tired and gaunt Hammami (See below). This video link at his YouTube channel was accompanied with two documents in Arabic (Here’s #1 and #2). Previously, Omar had posted his biography, in english, which was ignored by the e-jihadi crowd. This time he wrote two Arabic documents, which detail his trials and tribulations in Somalia. I’m assuming he chose Arabic to make sure word got out in the jihadi crowd. While I don’t read Arabic, I’ve gone through the Google translate and talked to a knowledgeable scholar, Dr. Will McCants, about what I think are key passages.
Omar names “names” and illustrates in great detail conflict between different factions in al Shabaab, conflict between al Qaeda and al Shabaab, and even disagreements between different al Qaeda elements in Somalia. Great stuff all around and for those that believe al Qaeda is unified and operates in lock step based on the rules of an all powerful ideology – you need to stop what you are doing and read Omar’s notes.
Again, I’m not an Arabic speaker, but I’ll do some quick paraphrasing here of what I interpreted (could be some mistakes) and the implications. For Arabic speakers out there, if you do an english translation of these documents, please post and send me the link and I’ll do a post on them here.
Connections between al Shabaab and al Qaeda in Yemen – In one section, Omar describes how members of al Qaeda in Yemen (AQAP) showed up in Somalia and were the communication conduit with al Qaeda Central in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The AQAP members were trying to coordinate the official merger of al Shabaab with al Qaeda. At the time, Ahmed Godane (Abu Zubayr) was against the merger as he thought the conditions in Somalia were not right yet. It seems at the point of the AQAP visit, Shabaab thought local public support for an Islamic state was sufficient but that the local populace would reject an alliance with al Qaeda. However, the foreign fighters present, in principle, did agree to be affiliated with al Qaeda. (My question: Did Godane balk at unity with al Qaeda at this point because he did not have firm control of al Shabaab and wanted to shore up loose ends before a formal merger?)
Desire to conduct external operations in Kenya – Throughout the second document, Hammami consistently discusses the desire by many within al Shabaab and particularly al Qaeda elements to begin conducting foreign operations and a deliberate campaign in Kenya. However, it appears certain leaders within Shabaab, particularly Godane I think, wanted to keep a lid on the foreign fighters and keep them focused on internal fighting in Somalia. (My question: Does the recent uptick in al Shabaab activity in Kenya represent a loss of control by Godane over Shabaab? I would assume with Shabaab’s losses and Godane likely fleeing north to Galgala, his control on those wanting to operate in Kenya is limited.)
Fazul’s return to Somalia, his conflict with Godane and resulting death – Omar describes in one section that legendary al Qaeda operative Harun Fazul returned with trainers to Somalia with the intent of establishing an external operations capability to project al Qaeda attacks from Somalia. Fazul told one of the commanders of foreign fighters, going by the name of A’sar Yusr, that he wanted to establish a training camp in the mountains of Puntland (probably Galgala). From what I understand, A’sar Yusr let Fazul’s plans slip to Godane (Abu Zubayr). Godane apparently didn’t like Fazul’s plan because 1) Godane, being from Hargeisa, didn’t want Fazul playing on his turf in Puntland (probably Galgala) and 2) Godane believed Fazul to be aligned with Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur) – Godane’s Southern Somalia rival for control of al Shabaab. As I understand it, this led Godane to plot Fazul’s demise setting Fazul up to approach a checkpoint in Mogadishu that was awaiting his arrival and prepared to kill him. (My note: This passage confirms Nelly Lahoud’s theory that Fazul was betrayed. This section also describes al Qaeda’s intent to conduct external operations from Somalia and matches the reporting of Michelle Shepard where she details how Fazul had plans for attacking London when he was killed.)
Conflicts between local Somali clan fighters (Ansar) and foreign fighters (Muhajir)- Hammami describes how many of the trainers that came with Fazul left Somalia. When they departed, many foreign fighters to Somalia left the country with the trainers to join al Qaeda’s ranks outside of Somalia. Hammami says the foreign fighters were frustrated because the fighting in Somalia was not a real jihad. Omar suggests foreign fighters were treated poorly in a variety of ways. As mentioned in his biography, he notes that there were constant tensions about how foreign fighters desired to be separated into their own cadres similar to how its done with Taliban/al Qaeda in Pakistan. There are also some comparisons to how foreign fighters are used in Iraq but I didn’t understand all of this. (My note: Omar, this is an exact replay of al Qaeda’s experience in Somalia from 1992-1994. The clans didn’t like being bossed around by outsiders and they always wanted to focus on local battles over global issues.)
Hammami overstepped with Godane and got punished – In one passage, Hammami describes his rift with Godane and how this has likely put him in his current predicament. Hammami had pledged at some point to stay out of Shabaab politics. Godane, at some point, wants to know why the foreign fighters are leaving Somalia. Hammami volunteers to explain the circumstances under which foreign fighters are frustrated over the local focus of clan fighters. Hammami suggests that a way to alleviate this frustration is for Godane to step aside and let Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur) take a bigger leadership role in Shabaab as he is well respected by the local Shabaab fighters and also has good rapport with the foreign fighters. Godane sees this as a challenge to his leadership and believes Hammami is partaking in politics again (breaking his promise to abstain) and joining the side of his rival Robow. This overstep later leads to Godane having angst with Hammami. (My notes: Omar needs a class in how to win friends and influence people. Sounds like he directly questioned Godane’s leadership and it wasn’t received well.)
Disastrous merger between al Shabaab and al Qaeda – My interpretation is that Godane calls a meeting for all of al Shabaab’s shura. Once everyone arrives, Godane announces that al Shabaab is going to officially join al Qaeda. Those in attendance, I believe, were caught a little off guard but were amenable. Then, Godane’s deputy (Guessing this might be Ibrahim al-Afghani) compels everyone to swear bayat (oath of allegiance) to al Qaeda and Godane. Those at the meeting think they have been fooled because there is no immediate formal recognition of this merger by al Qaeda Central and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Those that swore allegiance have a bad taste in their mouth about how this meeting went down as they have been told before they were going to be officially part of al Qaeda only to find out later that this was not true. Instead they would usually find out that a Somali leader had used the claim only as a political ploy to consolidate power. Also, Robow (Abu Mansur) is not at the meeting, which makes people nervous, and it is weeks (if I remember correctly) before Zawahiri formally and publicly recognizes the merger. (My note: It appears that Godane is a total Machiavelli in Somalia. Over many months, he systematically kills or pushes out those al Qaeda operatives in the country with connection to al Qaeda global, particularly after Bin Laden’s death. Once all connections to al Qaeda Central are removed, he uses his remaining connection to al Qaeda to push the merger forward and secure loyalty of other Shabaab leaders and establish sole communication and control with al Qaeda, which I imagine included resources. Total Game of Thrones going on with Godane, he sounds like a real dick! An additional note for all those that believe an oath to al Qaeda’s is a rigid everlasting and binding agreement that cements loyalty of al Qaeda members forever, please read this section. This totally undermines such a notion.)
Omar asserts that Godane killed off al Qaeda members and foreign fighters such as abu Talha, Fazul, Sudani and detained other foreign fighters – After the al Qaeda merger, Godane gave Hammami a figurehead position on a Shura but ultimately Hammami pushed back on the strategic direction of Shabaab landing him in his current predicament. Essentially, Godane used his linkage with al Qaeda to take firm control over foreign fighters in Somalia, focus all efforts on local power plays and suppress dissent. (My note: Bin Laden would not go with a Shabaab merger because he knew better and he had his aides in Somalia – Fazul. Zawahiri fell for the alliance with Godane, and in doing so is now aligned with a leader, Godane, and an affiliate, Shabaab, that killed off core members of al Qaeda. While I don’t think Zawahiri called for the killing of old al Qaeda vets like Fazul, he is negligent for not doing better intel in preparation for the merger.)
There are many other things in these documents and I just haven’t had time to go through it.
Other small things I picked up on:
Omar used his own money at some point to hire his own security and car to protect himself against Godane- Shabaab. (My note: this is when I would have broken with the group probably, like when they are trying to kill me.)
Omar explains how Shabaab deliberately discussed shifting back to Phase 1 guerilla warfare once Ethiopia and Kenya had fully invaded.
I’ll stop for now. And Omar, thanks for the information and feel free to send more. It appears you have resigned yourself to Shabaab and what appears to be a confrontation that will likely lead to your death. You don’t have to go that way. You’ve been betrayed by the group you joined. You could always turn yourself in and encourage those that might be considering a similar path to rethink their choice to join a terrorist group.